The Upper Cumberland is averaging 45 positive virus cases a day. This makes it the highest average in the state.
Upper Cumberland Medical Society Secretary Dr. James Gray said our region overall is not handling the virus well.
“I think people were really were not, they did not take this seriously,” Gray said. “Right now we’re suffering the consequences of that. Primarily it’s because of masking, there’s just this defiance of that.”
The county with the highest spike is Pickett County with 61 cases reported last week. Gray said although this number seems small, the county has a 5,000 resident population, making the percentage of positive cases 39 percent.
Gray said another reason numbers have increased could be due to the concept of herd immunity. This is when a population has protection against a disease. He said it is possible to achieve this immunity for COVID-19, but he said masks are the answer.
“I think people have been led to believe that the people who are at low risk go out and get it, they can get herd immunity,” Gray said. “But the problem is they take it home to people who are at high risk of dangerous outcomes, either hospitalizations or even death.”
There are a lot of similarities between the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Covid Pandemic of 2020, Gray said. Everyone wore masks through the spring, safety and mask rules began to relax in the summer, and positive cases spiked during the holiday season. He said history is already repeating itself in the Upper Cumberland.
In July metropolitan areas like Nashville established a mask mandate which helped slow the virus. Gray said after Governor Lee left safety mandates to county governments, increased positive cases began to spread.
“The problem is we don’t have enough-there’s not enough population in our counties to make a rational decision about that on a county by county basis,” Gray said. “So consequently we don’t have any county mayors, except for Warren County, that has issued a mandate.”
Gray said the answer to preventing the spread of the virus is to wear a mask. He said if counties cannot reach active cases per population to ten percent, he is afraid what the numbers will be after Thanksgiving.